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Raising Awareness to Save Lives: Rail Safety Week, September 18-24, Seeks to Prevent Railroad Crossing and Trespass Incidents Across North America

WASHINGTON, D.C. / OTTAWA, Canada / MEXICO CITY, Mexico, September 18, 2023 – Every year, 2,100 North Americans are killed or seriously injured when they engage in unsafe behavior around tracks and trains. In the U.S. alone, a person or vehicle is hit by a train every 3 hours.

Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI), Operation Lifesaver Canada and the Mexican Association of Railroads (AMF)  are once again joining forces to help prevent tragedies around railroad tracks and trains by observing Rail Safety Week (RSW) across North America, this year September 18-24. This annual week-long event concentrates public attention on the need for rail safety education and saves lives by educating and empowering the public to make safe decisions around tracks and trains.

OLI’s national office and state Operation Lifesaver programs across the U.S. will connect with their communities through in-person and online events, sharing rail safety messages and urging the public to get involved.

“Rail Safety Week focuses awareness and education activities around the country into seven exciting days. Daily themes include rail safety tips emphasizing crossing safety for drivers, trespass prevention for pedestrians, safe practices for transit riders, no photos on tracks and more,” said Rachel Maleh, Executive Director of Operation Lifesaver, Inc. “During this annual observance, safety partners across North America join us for a concentrated week of sharing the important rail safety message. Everyone can help make their communities safer. Know the facts, recognize the signs, make good decisions and join us. Together, we can #STOPTrackTragedies.”

As part of Rail Safety week, new video and audio public service announcements (PSAs) as well as social media campaigns are being released. Two new videos are being added to the ongoing #STOPTrackTragedies campaign that features personal stories of people directly affected by rail crossing or trespassing incidents — including victims, friends and family members, locomotive engineers, and first responders. The full campaign can be viewed at oli.org/stop-track-tragedies or stoptracktragedies.ca.

“Operation Lifesaver Canada is delighted to be marking the 20th anniversary of Rail Safety Week this year. Since 2003, our annual campaign has served to remind Canadians that taking risks near tracks and trains could cost them a limb, or their life,” says Sarah Mayes, OL Canada’s National Director. “This year’s #STOPTrackTragedies videos are especially poignant; they tell the stories of young Canadians who lost their lives while trespassing on railway property or engaging in unsafe behaviour at crossings. More than ever, we hope the public will share these stories and talk about the importance of rail safety with their loved ones, so that we can put an end to these preventable tragedies.”

“We are excited to join Rail Safety Week 2023,” said Iker de Luisa, Director General, Association of Mexican Railroads (AMF). “We urge drivers, pedestrians and anyone traveling near railroad tracks and trains to use common sense and be alert. Our priority is the promotion of safe interactions between railroads and the community. #VesViasPiensaEnTren #CuidaTuVida.”

In the U.S., along with the PSAs and a social media ad campaign, the following themes and messaging will be emphasized:

  • Monday, September 18 kicks off the week with the overarching theme of #STOPTrackTragedies and a focus on Media Outreach and Rail Safety Week Proclamations in states and localities. OLI will release two new #STOPTrackTragedies video public service announcements (PSAs).
  • Tuesday, September 19 focuses on the annual observance of Operation Clear Track in the U.S. and Canada emphasizing the importance of obeying crossing safety and anti-trespass laws. Law enforcement partners will conduct awareness exercises, Officer on the Train activities and other in-person positive enforcement events as well as join first responders sharing RSW messages through social media, email messaging and website posts.
  • Wednesday, September 20 highlights Crossing Safetywith outreach to the general public including new and mature drivers, shift workers, school bus drivers and farmers as well as outdoor enthusiasts, highlighting the importance of the Blue and White Emergency Notification System (ENS) signs at crossings.
  • Thursday, September 21, Transit Safety Thursday and Professional Driver Safety, showcases how to stay safe as a rail commuter or transit rider as well as safe choices around railroad tracks and trains for professional drivers. Transit riders will be encouraged to take and share OLI’s new transit safety pledge. Engaging new transit safety educational materials for Pre-K through age 12 children will be released, including an animated PSA, coloring book and activity book.
  • Friday, September 22 focuses on Volunteering along with Wearing Red or “Red Out” for Rail Safety by encouraging partner safety organizations, schools, railroad employees and the general public to wear red and share photos on social media.
  • Saturday, September 23 highlights Trespass Prevention, educating pedestrians, cyclists, joggers, college students, people experiencing homelessness and outdoor enthusiasts about the dangers posed by being on or near the tracks.
  • Sunday, September 24 promotes No Photo, Video or Selfie is Worth the Risk, to warn professional and amateur photographers as well as social media influencers against putting themselves or others in danger by illegally taking photos, videos, or filming near tracks and trains.
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